Lazy Sunday Afternoon
By Eric Brooks
I was recently reading a book by the esteemed philosopher and theologian Calvin. No, not John Calvin from the Reformation but Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes. The latter has an entire volume devoted to the Lazy Sunday Afternoon.
“God’s action is the model for human action. If God ‘rested and was refreshed’ on the seventh day, man too ought to ‘rest’ and should let others, especially the poor, ‘be refreshed.’ The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite.” (CCC:2172)
Before I go any farther, let me assure you I know God has called upon many of us to work on Sundays. In the military there were countless Sundays when I guarded flight lines, manned Access Control Points, or patrolled airbase perimeters. In one of my first civilian jobs I was the “hopper” in the back of an armored truck essentially every Sunday because there were two of us considered senior in that shop an entrusted with the “front half” of the vault combination. The more senior… seniorest?… of us chose to work Tuesday through Saturday, leaving me every Sunday to work.
For those of us blessed enough to have Sundays off, when was the last time you took a lazy Sunday afternoon off? And what does that even mean?
“It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.” (CCC:2172)
Fr. John Riccardo in his radio show Christ is the Answer provides some additional insight. To paraphrase him; if it seems like work, don’t do it, and otherwise you are fine. If you despise yardwork or cleaning bathrooms (yep that’s me) save mowing the lawn or weeding the flower beds for another day. However, if spending time in the rich black soil of your beloved flowerbeds brings you joy, spend the entire day there in peace. And if anyone really enjoys cleaning bathrooms, please stop by every Sunday at our house; I have some work for you.
We are a nation that has traditionally pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps, busted sod, worked the factory lines, and prided ourselves on our industry. We are workers, first responders, entrepreneurs, educators, and soldiers. These are certainly laudable goals and admirable achievements. However, when did that transform into a trio of soccer games or marching band practice every Sunday or swinging by the office and then answering a dozen work emails on our smartphone during dinner.
In those comics, Calvin is painfully aware of how transitory and fleeting Summer is. He wants to grasp every halcyon evening, every long day playing outside until his parents scream for him to come inside for dinner, every precious moment with his stuffed tiger before reality intrudes. Calvin understands, in a way many of us cannot, how fleeting our existence in this world is and how much God wants us to be happy until we can come home to Him.
Certainly 2020 has taken many things away from us. However, even before the virus and the lockdowns and the masks, how many of us had already give up our Lazy Summer Afternoons. What better a time to reclaim them.